Canoeing guide - London 2012 Olympic Games

Your complete guide to canoeing ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

Photograph: Canoeing via Shutterstock

Converted: Wet 'n' wild action!

Confused: I did this at summer camp.

RECOMMENDED: See our full list of London 2012 Olympic sport guides

Canoeing - The essential guide

Street cred: Canoes were trending spectacularly in 2007, when it emerged that a man called John Darwin had faked his own death in a pretend kayak tragedy. Since then, things have been quiet.

Basics: Olympic canoeing consists of two disciplines, slalom and sprint, which are divided into canoe and kayak categories.

Sprint – a straight race along flat water. There are 12 gold medals available with distances ranging from 200m to 1000m.

Slalom – a spectacular event also known as white-water canoeing, where paddlers duck and weave through rapids and negotiate a course of 25 gates.

Who’s good? The central and eastern Europeans, such as Slovakia, Germany and Hungary.

Athletes to watch: Multi-gold-medal winning Slovakian twins Pavol and Peter Hochschorner are an imperious pair... imagine if 'Twins' was about two Arnold Schwarzeneggers and no Danny Devitos.

As seen in: 'Deliverance' (1972), although it might put you off the sport for life.

Almost useless fact: The main difference between a kayak and a canoe is that kayak paddles have blades at both ends whereas canoe paddles have a blade at only one end. Glad we've cleared that up.

Do say: 'Canoeing may be a low-profile sport but with so many medals available, success on the water could propel the USA up the overall rankings.'

Don't say: 'I'm really into watersports.'